The History of the Church and the Local Churchesby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
History shows us that there was a desire within many seeking ones for the proper church life. They could not express this inward desire, but actually there was something in them seeking or hunting the proper church life. In the eighteenth century the Lord moved among the Moravian brethren under the leadership of Count Zinzendorf to recover something of the practice of the church life. These Moravian brethren suffered the persecution not only of the Roman Catholic Church but also of the state churches. They were persecuted because they stood for the truth, and they fled to Zinzendorf’s estate in Saxony for refuge. Because of Count Zinzendorf’s love for the Lord, he received many of these seekers who came from different backgrounds. These brothers began to disagree over their doctrinal differences. One day Zinzendorf called a conference, and he convinced them to drop their doctrinal disagreements. They signed an agreement to keep the oneness among them and to lay aside their differences in doctrine and in their religious backgrounds. Afterwards, while they were having the Lord’s table, they experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Among them there was the strongest revival in church history up to that time, and they became one of the most prevailing Christian groups on earth. Even John Wesley was saved through them. He stayed with these brethren for a period of time. He said that if it were not for his burden for England, he would have stayed with the Moravian brethren for his entire life. To our knowledge, since the time of the early apostles, the Moravian brothers might be considered as the first group of Christians to realize the church life in a somewhat proper way. Therefore, God’s blessing was poured out upon them. Although they enjoyed the practice of the church life to a certain degree, they were still not clear about many aspects of the truth concerning the church.
In the nineteenth century, from 1825 to 1828, the Lord raised up the so-called Brethren under the leadership of John Nelson Darby. D. M. Panton said that the movement of the Brethren and its significance was far greater than that of the Reformation. The Reformation was somewhat worldly because of its association with human government, but the move among the Brethren was really something spiritual. They did not like to have any advertisements in their work for the Lord. It is even difficult for one to find a picture of J. N. Darby. Many of the Brethren felt that taking pictures was a worldly practice. Regretfully, the golden time of the Brethren lasted for only a short period of time. Eventually, there was a split among them. The first division was between J. N. Darby and Benjamin Newton. Their dispute was concerning the rapture of the believers. Darby was strong concerning pretribulation rapture, whereas Newton was strong concerning posttribulation rapture.
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